You’ve probably taken aspirin if you’ve had a headache or a cold. There are other similar drugs available now, but aspirin was the first of its kind.
What a Pain. Aspirin is used to kill pain, reduce swelling and thin the blood to help heart-attack and stroke patients. It’s related to a natural remedy that’s been known for thousands of years.
About 2,500 years ago, the ancient Greek doctor Hippocrates wrote about the healing properties of a tea made from the bark of a willow tree. It’s also mentioned as a remedy in writing from other ancient civilizations in the Middle East and North America.
In 1763 an English Reverend, Edmund Stone, described how farm workers used willow bark to make a cure for fevers.
In 1838 the Italian chemist Rafaele Piria discovered a way to extract the active ingredient of willow bark, salicin, and convert it into salicylic acid. But, used on its own, salicylic acid gives patients stomach pains and sickness.
In 1899 Felix Hoffman, an employee of the pharmaceutical company Bayer, used his arthritic father as a guinea pig. After trying various compounds, he discovered that acetylsalicylic acid was effective and free from side effects. It was a great discovery, and a great relief for Hoffman’s father.
Acetylsalicylic acid, called aspirin, went on sale as a powder. It was an instant success.
Everyone knows that eating certain foods can help you stay fit and healthy, especially food rich in vitamins and minerals. Before pharmaceutical drugs were available, though, people had to rely far more on different types of food to not only keep them well, but help them feel better when they did get it.
Try this food trivia quiz. Which of the following has the most vitamin C?
1. SAGE 2. LAVENDER 3. GINGER 4. PEPPERMINT 5. THYME 6 ECHINACEA 7. DANDELION
Choose some healthy foods and herbs and see if you can create the ultimate cure-all smoothie. Try different combinations to find one you like. Most will probably taste disgusting, but no pain, no gain!
A few days after he’d invented aspirin, Hoffman invented another drug, heroin, which was marketed at the same time. At first, heroin was more successful because people believed it to be healthier, then they discovered that it was also addictive.